A Identify Rotation Goals A-1 Review overall farm & personal goals (e.g., long & short term, mission statement) A-2 Review overall farm operation (e.g., marketing strategies, profitability, farm family/team, production system [crop & livestock mix], length of season, equipment, raised beds or row crops, on-farm compost production) A-3 Identify problems that can be addressed through rotation A-4 Set rotation goals (e.g., manage insects, disease, weeds, soil, field logistics; see sidebar 2.8, page 14, set custom goals)
A-5 Review annual production plan (e.g., crop & cover crop species & varieties, desired quantities) A-6 Balance acreage, at whole farm level, between cash crops, cover crops, livestock, and “fallow” (e.g., bare soil, stale seed-bed, sod/hay, permanent pasture, or woodlot; consider role of livestock in fertility and weed control) A-7 Update records (e.g., whole farm plan & farm mission, record annual production plan)
B Identify Resources & Constraints B-1 Identify personal strengths, weaknesses, likes & dislikes B-2 Determine available land (e.g., quantity, suitability) B-3 Determine irrigation potential for each field (e.g., equipment, water availability) B-4 Identify markets for cash crops B-5 Review projected annual cash flow
B-6 Identify neighbor issues (e.g., compost pile location, spraying, chemical drift, pollination, genetic pollution) B-7 Inventory farm equipment & facilities (e.g., greenhouses, tractors, post- harvest handling areas) B-8 Assess crop cultural needs (e.g., spacing, trellising, crop height, microclimates, irrigation) B-9 Identify cultural constraints based on equipment (e.g., row width, irrigation) B-10 Inventory labor availability
B-11 Assess labor strengths, weaknesses, likes & dislikes B-12 Identify input suppliers (e.g., plants & seeds, amendments, manure/ compost, cropping materials, post-harvest packaging) B-13 Review regulations (e.g., organic certification, phosphorus regulations, other applicable relevant regulations) B-14 Determine available rotation management time B-15 Establish and maintain relationships with off-farm experts (e.g., extension, scouts, land grants, others; talk to laborers)
C Gather Data C-1 Walk fields regularly to observe crop growth & field conditions C-2 Create field maps including acreage, land, soils (including NRCS soil map data), physical characteristics, frost pockets, air drainage, microclimates; plot areas with known problems on map C-3 Test soils (e.g., N, P, K, secondary- & micronutrients, pH, cation exchange capacity, organic matter) C-4 Network with farmers & others (e.g., helpers, extension, others; site-specific & practice-related)
C-5 Study existing research data (e.g., cover crops, insects, diseases, fertility, weeds) C-6 Consult field records (e.g., what was planted where in previous years, successes & failures C-7 Consult meteorological data (e.g., frost free dates, rainfall) C-8 Consult sales data & market trends
C- 9 Categorize crops (see sidebar 2.9, page 15) C-10 Categorize  fields (see sidebar 2.9, page 15) C-11 Maintain records (e.g., up-to- date maps, information on crops & fields, etc.)
D Analyze Data D-1 Assess weather probabilities D-2 Assess soil conditions on a bed or field basis (e.g., residue, moisture, temperature, compac- tion, last year’s mulch; see sidebar 2.12, page 18) D-3 Compare crop cultural needs to field characteristics (e.g., soil test results, crop residues) D-4 Assess whether pest, disease, or weed pressures from previous season must be addressed
D-5 Determine applicability of research data, advice, & other farmers’ experience D-6 Assess crop mix for whole farm (e.g., market data, soil tests) D-7 Maintain records (e.g., record data analysis results & decisions made)
E Plan Crop Rotation E-1 Review recent cropping history (e.g., 3 or more years; field or bed basis; by crop & sequence of botanical families, performance, production, logistical issues) E-2 Consider field needs & conditions (e.g., disease, fertility) E-3 Group crops according to maturity dates (e.g., for simultaneous or sequential harvesting) E-4 Consider harvest logistics (e.g., access to crops; field & row length, minimum walking & box-carrying distance, use of harvest equipment, plan for ease of loading onto trucks) E-5 Consider companion planting options
E-6 Group crops according to botanical families E-7 Determine crop quantities & area (e.g., 500 row feet or 2 acres; add 10% for contingencies) E-8 Determine field locations of most profitable, beneficial, and “at-risk”crops E-9 Determine field locations of lower-priority crops E-10 Schedule succession plantings of cash crops
E-11 Determine cover crop types, field locations, & quantities E-12 Integrate cash & cover crops (e.g., simultaneous [overseed, interseed, undersow] or sequential [one follows another]) E-13 Determine managed fallow field locations E-14 Plan crop/rotation experiments (e.g., new trials, new-to-this-farm rotations) E-15 Draft annual plans (e.g., rotation plan, production plan, soil fertility plan)
E-16 Develop guidelines for contingencies in case rotation does not go as planned (e.g., written or mental guidelines for improvisation: principles, priorities to use to make on-the-spot decisions) E-17 Use senses & imagination to review plan (e.g., field plans and logistics; walk fields and visualize rotation, “farm it in your head”) E-18 Maintain records (e.g., write down plan, draw maps)
F Execute Rotation F-1 Organize rotation planning & management tools (e.g., planting charts, equipment booklets, maps, reference materials) F-2 Review rotation & production plans F-3 Confirm markets for cash crops (change crops or quantities if price or demand requires) F-4 Implement production plan (e.g., secure labor & train labor, prepare equipment [including irrigation], order seeds & supplies) F-5 Monitor weather (e.g., short term [best day for planting]; long term [need to change plan due to drought])
F-6 Monitor soil & crop conditions (e.g., field readiness for planting; cover crop maturity; residue incorporation) F-7 Monitor greenhouse conditions (e.g., observe condition of transplants relative to soil conditions; slow or accelerate growth if necessary to produce appropriate-sized transplants on-time) F-8 Prepare work schedule F-9 Prepare soils as soon as weather permits (using appropriate tillage, prepare fields when field conditions are right, avoiding compaction & allowing time for any cover crops or residue to adequately break down) F-10 Plant crops (follow plan & planting calendar as conditions permit; capture planting windows, “seize the moment”; adjust plan as needed based on contingency guidelines [see E-16])
F-11 Keep unused soil covered (e.g., cover crop, mulch, trap crops) F-12 Maintain crops (e.g., cultivate, spray, trellis, irrigate, harvest) F-13 Adjust actions according to field & crop conditions (e.g., weather, soils, weed pressure; assign crops to different fields or beds to adjust for wetness or other problems; replant if necessary, abandon crop or replace with a cover crop to cut losses) F-14 Maintain records (e.g., what was actually planted where, successes & failures, planting & harvest dates, compliance with regulations & organic certification)
G Evaluate Rotation Execution G-1 Assess soil quality (e.g., expected vs. actual) G-2 Assess yields (e.g., varieties, cover crops; expected vs. actual) G-3 Assess timing & sequencing (e.g., expected vs. actual) G-4 Assess costs of production (e.g., by crop, expected vs. actual) G-5 Assess profitability on a whole farm & crop-by-crop basis (e.g., expected vs. actual)
G-6 Assess disease control (e.g., expected vs. actual) G-7 Assess weed control (e.g., expected vs. actual) G-8 Assess insect & pest control (e.g., expected vs. actual) G-9 Interview work crew for suggestions; determine likes, dislikes G-10 Measure performance against rotation goals (positive or negative outcomes)
G-11 Determine if successes or failures were due to internal/on-farm or macro/ regional issues (e.g., consult other farmers, extension agents, others) G-12 Analyze success & failure of rotation plan (e.g., review goals, identify factors, consult external information sources, draw conclusions) G-13 Maintain records (e.g., production records, experiment results, successes & failures, speculations)
H Adjust Rotation Plan H-1 Identify successful combinations & repeat (set successful rotations on “automatic pilot”) H-2 Develop collaborations with researchers & farmers to create solutions to problems or verify successes (e.g., trials & experiments) H-3 Investigate new market opportunities (“smell the niche”) H-4 Tweak crop mix (e.g., based on market data & field performance; consider adding or abandoning crops or elements of rotation as necessary) H-5 Tweak field management (e.g., change planting or plowdown dates, crop locations; shift crop families to different fields; put poorly performing fields into hay ahead of schedule)
H-6 Upgrade or improve equipment as necessary H-7 Start process over (return to A: Identify Rotation Goals) H-8 Maintain records (e.g., keep notes of actual changes implemented)